Eugenia Corais-known as Jenny-is a brilliant intellectual who aspires to transform her Columbia University activism into a media crusade. After she crosses paths with Dietrich Neuendorf, a charismatic, unyielding German human rights attorney haunted by his secret family past, they quickly fall in love.
Meanwhile, eight thousand miles away, in Southern Africa, Rhodesian white settlers break away from the British Commonwealth and are surrounded by hostile Africans demanding immediate independence. The UN imposes an embargo on the former colony, while the hardline Rhodesian regime declares a state of emergency. As violence in the country intensifies, Dietrich is offered a job there to investigate civil rights violations, and a few weeks later, Jenny flies to Africa to join him. Together, they begin a dangerous journey in a tumultuous country on the brink of war.
When Jenny meets an armaments contractor, an unscrupulous man of immense power and oppressive colonial military background, she will encounter a shadow government operating behind the mainstream political smokescreen. She will also discover a dark side she never knew existed - her own.
Jenny's personal saga unfolds on a historical canvas that spans from cabaret Berlin and wartime Europe to the American Civil Rights era, the anti-Vietnam War protests, and the explosive final days of colonial Africa. EUGENIA: Destiny and Choice charts a quest for human awareness and social conscience in a political dystopia. The epic narrative follows three compelling characters tested by love and promiscuity, moral conflicts and momentous circumstances.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.65(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Destiny and Choice
By Geórgeos Constantin Awgerinøs
iUniverseCopyright © 2015 Geórgeos Constantin Awgerinøs (George C. Awgerinos)
All rights reserved.
"Mr. Prime Minister, I urge you to reconsider your decision."
The South African prime minister, a tall and imposing man with silver hair and a wide smile, dismissed the warning of his national security advisor.
"Dr. Duplessis, our republic is under imminent threat from within. I will never allow this country to be hijacked by a shadow government. In one hour, I will reveal to the parliamentary caucus what has been going on behind closed doors."
"Never before has a public exposure of such marquee names come before the legislative assembly. This unorthodox approach is unheard of in the history of political affairs," Dr. Duplessis commented, in his distinctive Wallonian inflection. He was a long-skulled, pale-skinned man of average build, no taller than five foot seven, with close-cropped gray hair, an icy stare, and robotic mannerisms. He listened as the prime minister went on with his rant.
"South Africa didn't gain its independence from the British crown in order to subordinate itself to its military industrial complex. Apartheid was meant to protect the racial order in this country, not to become a self-destructive debt-spiral ploy."
"Independence means the freedom to choose your own masters, Mr. Prime Minister, and racial order is a costly agenda."
"This is the South African Republic, not South Africa, Inc."
"It is the South African Republic, Inc. All states are corporate entities, monsieur, one way or another; this country is not an exception. With all due respect, presidents, prime ministers, even absolute rulers are the stage protagonists in the theater called politics; they are neither the writers, nor the producers of the show. This is a friendly reminder."
The premier was aware that South Africa had become a "republic" because of Dr. Duplessis's gerrymandering and intricate offstage diplomacy. He owed his prime ministerial chair to Dr. Duplessis's byzantine machinations, but he would not yield to his trusted policymaker's insolent innuendo and skillful pressure. When he spoke again, it was apparent that he had removed from his mind the last shadows of hesitation. The tone of his voice was conclusive.
"Dr. Duplessis, alea jacta est—the die is cast. The security operations units are on alert. The disarming of the Armée-Gendarmerie and the arrests of the Concession's board members will begin once I commence my speech."
"As you wish, monsieur."
The PM relaxed his tone with his advisor; he became genial as usual.
"On Thursday, I will turn sixty-five years young. I have a family gathering at home. You will be there, Fabien, you promise?"
"Of course Hendrik, I will," Dr. Duplessis responded. The prime minister watched his advisor retreat. As he sat alone he stared at the antique clock across from his oak-paneled desk. He checked once more the printed page of his speech, which he had placed on the desk. Today he would make an announcement signaling a shake-up in modern history, and in the process he would settle some old scores. For a few seconds he visualized the reaction of the caucus: a standing ovation for his daring initiative. Pleased with this thought, he approached the window and watched the midday bustle of Cape Town, his beloved city.
Nestled in the southwest corner of the African continent, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, with glistening coastlines and breathtaking views of Table Mountain, Cape Town, the parliamentary capital of South Africa, is a thriving metropolis with Dutch architecture, wide boulevards, colorful parks, and a flourishing business district. The city's rich history contains an intriguing mix of European sophistication and Cape Malay exoticism that dates back to the seventeenth century, blended with subtropical African beauty.
Picturesque and prosperous though it might have been, Cape Town was not a paradise for all. The eye of the conscientious traveler in 1966 would observe, from stores to parks to the sandy beaches, two signs, in Afrikaans and English: "Slegs blankes/ whites only" and "Slegs nie-blankes/non-whites only."
Seven miles into the sea across the panoramic Table Bay was Robben Island. It appeared a tiny idyllic islet, which one might have guessed was a fisherman's retreat; but such was not the case. Once a leper colony, Robben Island was one of the most infamous penitentiaries on earth. And yet, it hosted no penal convicts but instead, civil rights activists, some of them with world-renowned names: Govan Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Jacob Zuma.
Just ten miles to the east of the majestic capital there was another world that most Capetowneans did not know existed: a district for natives only, which no whites except the police could enter. There, the neighborhoods of Langa, Nyanga, and Guguletu resembled more a massive dumpster than a sprawling suburbia. Newly built project buildings that reminded one of barracks sat beside wooden shacks with tin roofs. African women washed their clothes in rusty bins with boiled water outside their slum dwellings. Their children, most barefoot, played soccer with tin cans in dirt alleys with numbers for names, such as NY1 or NY4, which stood for native yards, as the city called these dusty, unpaved lanes.
It was 2:15 p.m., Tuesday, September 6, 1966, when the prime minister of the South African Republic made his entry to the House of Assembly to deliver his speech.
While he took the podium, a man with Mediterranean features dressed in a messenger's uniform entered the building. He crossed unchecked through the heavily guarded lobby and approached the podium. Within seconds, the messenger pulled a dagger out of his jacket and stabbed the prime minister four times in the chest. Parliamentary members rushed to pin the assassin to the ground, while the PM's blood gushed from the gaping wounds in his chest. An ambulance rushed him to the Groote Schuur Hospital, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead on arrival.
Later that day, television and radio stations around the world announced the staggering news. From nations opposed to the apartheid regime came lead stories declaring: "Demetris Tsafendas, the son of a Greek immigrant and an African woman from Mozambique, assassinated Dr. Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, the prime architect of apartheid." Conversely the local media stated: "A mentally disturbed extremist assassinated the father of white South Africa, motivated by hatred and rage." The African underground press was jubilant: "Tsafendas inyanga yezizwe—Tsafendas, the healer of the nation!" That evening witnessed an unusual commute in front of the ministerial houses below the campus of the University of Cape Town. Cars carrying government officials and parliamentary members came and went. It was after midnight when the gates of a palatial mansion opened, and three stretch limousines with black-tinted glass made their exit. The convoy moved slowly down Belleview Road, encountering little traffic. Police patrols created a strong presence that night. In the second car of the motorcade, two men sat in the back of the limousine. One was a short, plump gentleman in his sixties. After looking nervously at the car following them, he reached for the limo's bar and took a bottle.
"Thirty-year-old Glenfiddich, Mr. Henderson? I know it's your favorite," he said and poured some into a shot glass.
"I'll have tobacco instead, Minister," his companion replied with a conspicuous English accent. He was a towering man with broad shoulders, a wide face with a prominent jawline, and a thick mustache. He resembled a nineteenth-century British colonial military officer. Oddly, he wore a safari pith helmet, like a jungle explorer ready to hunt his prey. He lit up and silently puffed on his cigar. He sat comfortably, apparently enjoying his smoke. At one point, he too glanced back to face the limo that was following. The headlights illuminated his face, showing a man in his late forties with harsh features and piercing dark eyes.
"What a night, Mr. Henderson."
"It was a great night, Minister," the big man with the pith replied, puffing his fat Havana.
"Now that the obstacles have been removed, the door is open for the government and the Southern African Development Concession to sign the agreement. The armaments production executive board will be replaced, and within a week the shopping list will be on your desk, Mr. Henderson."
The Englishman stared outside the dark window, momentarily in thought.
"Minister, the signing of agreements is not enough. The Concession is part of South Africa's apparatus, and we need our territory secured. We cannot intervene every time some careless bureaucrat in your administration oversteps or defies our initial arrangements."
"What do you have in mind, Mr. Henderson?"
"The Southern African Development Concession needs ironclad legislation that secures our role in this country's future. You did it with the Oppenheimer gold and diamond cartel; you will do it with us too."
"That was the situation five decades ago, when this part of the world was the Wild South. This is 1966."
But the Englishman didn't seem in the mood to brook refusals.
"Rhodesia and South Africa will always be the Wild South. Africa is made by monopolies for monopolies; the Concession would have to refuse anything less. Without the Southern African Development Concession, apartheid will fall swiftly like a shack in a gale. You know that as well as I, Minister."
The driver continued moving on the barren road. His burly build and crew cut made apparent his role as secret security rather than a mere chauffeur. Henderson puffed his Havana contemplatively while he rolled past the closed stores of Belleview Road. The South African minister of defence and national security refilled his glass.
"Are you sure you don't want some malt?"
"I never mix liquor and business; and this is business, Minister."
"I'll make the arrangements tomorrow morning. Be assured that from tonight we enter a new period of friendly cooperation for both sides."
Henderson seemed pleased with the minister's conclusive reply. He looked at his watch.
"It's already one o'clock. I need to be back in Rhodesia in two hours, but I enjoy myself every time I am in the Cape, especially tonight."CHAPTER 2
"In our next class, we'll discuss the mysteries of medieval Zimbabwe and its people before that region was colonized and took its current name, Rhodesia. Be sure you've finished the assigned reading."
The professor ended his lecture, and the students stood and began to shuffle out into the hall. A young woman with raven black hair in a ponytail, wearing a blue-jean skirt and sneakers, sat in the front row and returned her lined notebook to her backpack. She looked at her watch and hurried out, joined by two of her classmates.
"Jenny, don't run so fast," said the girl on her left, with a strong Appalachian drawl. She was of middle height, slightly shorter than Jenny, with pumpkin-red hair and bangs, a tie-dyed dress, and rope sandals made from hemp.
The woman on Jenny's right, the tallest of the three, was dressed impeccably in a pale pink minidress and pearls, with flowing blonde hair that reached her waist.
The three mismatched friends exited Fayerweather Hall and walked toward the Low Library Plaza, on the main campus of Columbia University.
"We have a meetin' in College Walk in ten minutes about the tuition deferments and Vietnam. Are you comin'?" asked the hippie girl.
"I can't, Trudy Ann, I've got to finish writing my article for the newspaper. It's due tomorrow."
Jenny walked ahead with long strides.
The taller woman joined Jenny as Trudy Ann went her way. "Those meetings are a total waste, just talk-talk, from angry kids. Do you have five minutes?"
"You're always too busy, Jenny. C'mon, slow down."
"I have to make a living, Dianne. My dad doesn't pay for my expenses like yours."
"Five minutes won't pay it either. I want you to meet my new boyfriend."
The girls arrived at the Low Library. Surrounded by buildings with Greek and Latin epigrams, the square was reminiscent of a classic ancient amphitheater. This evening the Low Plaza was full of the vivid motion of youthful life, with students chatting, flirting, studying, or napping under the descending sun.
"This is the boyfriend of the month?"
"Come on, don't be mean; this one is different. He's studying law. His name is Philip. I told him about you and he wants to meet you."
"Okay, five minutes, but just for a quick hello."
"He's the sexiest guy you've ever seen, Jenny. His father is a Columbia alumnus and well-known surgeon in the Upper East Side. There he is."
"Dianne, you should go work as a society reporter. You're wasting your time with sociology." Halfway to the entry of the Low stood the university's best-known landmark; Alma Mater, the eight-foot bronze statue symbolizing the goddess of wisdom, was seated on her pedestal overlooking the campus. Five male students, all dressed in suits, stood in front of the statue. One of the young men immediately left his pals and came toward the two girls. He kissed Dianne, who made the introductions.
"This is Eugenia Corais, but everybody calls her Jenny. And this is Philip."
Jenny said a polite hello, but as Dianne and her new beau chatted, her eyes were drawn back to the other four young men standing beside Alma Mater, especially to a tall one with wheat-blond hair and silver-rimmed glasses. She guessed he was way over six feet tall; he looked like a Viking raider of the tenth century, dressed in a modern outfit. At one point Jenny exchanged a glance with him. Spontaneously, she smiled. He didn't respond. Instead, he straightened up his suspenders and pushed his glasses against his nose with his left thumb.
"Are all of you on your way to a Wall Street recruiting session?" Jenny joked.
"Oh no," Philip responded. "We have a meeting with President Kirk and we must be formal. He is old school, and if we want his good opinion, and our future depends on it, we need to dress for him."
Jenny looked at her watch. "Well, I've got to go; it was nice meeting you, Philip."
She took one last glance at the Nordic-looking student and rushed down the stairs. At the bottom of the steps she found her red bicycle leaning against the wall. She unlocked it and walked toward Broadway. She rode across the avenue and pedaled with the traffic to 114th Street. Then she turned right and stopped in front of an old brownstone, where she lived off-campus.
Her third-floor apartment was tidy yet revealed her personality. It included a small living room, hallway, and two bedrooms. There were posters of Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Anaïs Nin, Allen Ginsberg, and Inez Milholland on the walls. The apartment was an eclectic mix of cultural and political messages. The bookshelves had everything from Max Stirner, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse to Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, and S. Helena Patursson.
Jenny walked into her bedroom. On the wall hung her BA from Barnard College and a master's from Columbia's Pulitzer School of Journalism. Her bedside table had a copy of the latest edition of the Berkeley Barb, a well-known underground paper from the West Coast.
After working at her typewriter for an hour Jenny turned on the radio. The latest news from South Africa was being reported when she heard the key in the door.
"Hi tha'ah, Jenny honeypie." Trudy Ann sighed as she tossed her keys on the counter and began unbuttoning her coat.
"Hey, Trudy Ann, I was about to make some of your favorite sassafras tea. Did you hear what happened? The premier of South Africa was assassinated a few hours ago."
"Really? Well, I've got no sympathy for the racist pig. He got what he deserved."
Trudy Ann reached into a kitchen cabinet for a mug and set it down next to Jenny's.
"Rumors say it was an inside job: monopolies, banking interests, and the secret security."
"That wouldn't surprise me, darlin'. Few countries have politics as dirty as Africa's deep south."
As the kettle started to sing, Jenny rose to prepare the tea and changed the subject.
"I found a trick to save myself time with my articles. For the last three months I've written the same review for the Spectator and the Greek Herald. I write in English, I translate it to Greek, and voilà! Two birds with one stone."
"What's your theme for tomorrow?"
Jenny put her teacup down and went to her room to retrieve her pages, while her roommate put on a Dizzy Gillespie album, shutting off the news.
Jenny returned and announced, "American society drifts toward the anti-establishment left versus the theocratic, pro-war, communist-phobic right."
Excerpted from Eugenia by Geórgeos Constantin Awgerinøs. Copyright © 2015 Geórgeos Constantin Awgerinøs (George C. Awgerinos). Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsEdda I: The Puppetmakers, 1,
Edda II: Berlin, The Lust City, Cabaret Époque, 77,
Edda III: The Many Layers of African Reality, 137,
Edda IV: The Chess Duel, 161,
Edda V: The Burning of the Phoenix, 263,